How Sex Toys Impact Relationships?

Do they always increase satisfaction?

The popularity of adult sex toys has increased over the past decade. Research suggests that the taboos surrounding vibrators and other devices like - anal beads, anal plug, anal sex toys, rabbit vibrators, fetish sex toys, large dildos for women, masturbator sex toys, penis extenders, premium sex toys, realistic dildo vibrator, realistic sex dolls, realistic masturbators, vibrating butt plug, vibrators for women intended to increase individual or mutual pleasure are dissolving as more individuals (and couples) reach for a far more intimate type of technology.

Enhancing physical pleasure undoubtedly enhances sexual enjoyment. But how does using sex toys impact the satisfaction that both partners derive from their overall relationship? Some novel research into the prevalence and demographics of sex toy use sheds light on this question and the results indicate that pleasure in bed and pleasure in a relationship may differ slightly for partners depending on their gender.

A large nationally representative study led by researcher Michael Reece, Ph.D., examined the prevalence of vibrator use among heterosexual men in the U.S. Intriguingly, heterosexual men who had used sex toys with their partners reported lower levels of sexual satisfaction than men who had never used a sex toy with their partners.

The researchers couldn’t say for sure why satisfaction was lower in this cohort. But given that most heterosexual men who had used vibrators with a partner reported doing so to increase their partner’s pleasure (as opposed to their own) it’s possible that these men’s sexual satisfaction was unchanged by the introduction of a vibrator and may have already been lower, to begin with.

That said, it may also be the case that some heterosexual men who have used vibrators with their partners (either because their partner suggested they do so or because they organically thought it could improve their partner’s enjoyment of sex) felt that having to use a vibrator reflected poorly on their own sexual ability. If this were the case it would make sense that their sexual satisfaction remained low. (No one likes to feel they are not good in bed.)

The belief that “using a sex toy means your partner is not a good enough lover is one of the most common misconceptions people have about sex toys," says licensed marriage and family therapist, and resident relationship and sex expert at, Dr. Kat Van Kirk, Ph.D. "One partner may also fear that another partner’s use of a sex toy will replace them or that they'll become overly reliant on them for arousal and/or orgasm.”

All this isn’t to say that every man who uses a vibrator with a partner risks feeling inferior or unsatisfied. Other research (also by Reece) has found that men who regularly use vibrators (on themselves, on their partners, or both) score higher on measures of erectile function, orgasm function, sexual desire, and sexual satisfaction than men who have rarely or never reached for a vibrator.

The same study also found that men who identify as gay or bisexual are more frequent users of vibrators and other sex toys. More frequent use of sex toys among individuals who do not identify as strictly straight has also been found among women, according to a 2011 study led by researcher Vanessa Shick, Ph.D. While 53 percent of heterosexual women report having ever used a sex toy, 86 percent of women who have sex with women say they’ve used a sex toy and experienced a noticeable uptick in sexual satisfaction because of it.Whether sex toys end up enhancing a relationship or leading to conflict likely depends on the nature of openness and communication between partners.

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Experts believes that incorporating toys can boost the relationship and sexual satisfaction of anyone open to and respectful of their own and their partners' inclinations and boundaries. “If there is a sense of openness and non-judgment that can be cultivated most people can learn to incorporate new aspects into their repertoire versus being resistant. Talking about the resistance can be helpful in dispelling myths your partner has had about sex toy use. And some education always helps. For instance, the fact that most women do not orgasm through vaginal alone should be enough to invest in a sex toy.”

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